Way back, when I fantasized about making ovulation kits affordable in Israel (it worked, the price has gone way down), I started importing and selling ovulation kits on a website that I made. There was very little money in it but I kept up with it almost as a public service. So, in addition to selling tests (which means packaging them on my own and sending one slave or another over to the post office) I also give tips on how to use them over the phone.
About 18 months ago, Diana started calling me. At first she thought she was missing her ovulation because her cycle was short and she waited twelve days before going to the Ritual Bath (links to a book I really enjoyed by Faye Kellerman). I gave her tips about who she could call for help, like Puah - an organization that combines infertility with halacha (Jewish law). Finally, she convinced me to sell her fertility tests (that I insisted she didn't really need) and then she called me for support practically daily for the next two months. Later, her husband was tested and it turned out that they were definitely going to have difficulty conceiving naturally... The last time I talked to her was shortly after she'd gotten that news. That is, until today.
Today Diana called and told me she had good news. She'd gone through her 2nd IVF cycle and it was successful. Well, kind of successful. Before she let me congratulate her she told me what was troubling her. Her first beta was 32. Her second beta, 4 days later, was 35.
Having gone through a pregnancy that started with a beta of 29, I remembered from my research at the time, that starting with such a low beta usually isn't that great. A beta not doubling isn't necessarily a problem very early on, but barely going up after 4 days & staying that low is definitely bad. I hated to be in the position of telling her that it was pretty likely that it wasn't going to work out.
She called me back later, looking for a shred of hope. Maybe something she could eat would make it better? Maybe because the estrogen & progesterone levels were good that it would be OK? Maybe more than one had implanted and then only one remained? And then came the guilt - maybe it was something that she did? Maybe she didn't pray hard enough? I did everything I could to reassure her that it wasn't something that she did and also that there was nothing that she could do.
I wish I could have given her hope. I told her my story. With a first beta of 29 & then 35... weeks of not knowing what was happening (my fetus was hiding behind the huge hematoma (blood clot) that ended up washing it out - the first time I saw a sac was at 8 weeks & then, suddenly there it was, a fetus with a heartbeat, exactly the right size for 8 weeks). I waited to miscarry, knowing that it would happen, but my baby kept growing normally and as the time went by, I thought I might beat the odds... After weeks of bleeding on and off and two weeks of complete bedrest, I lost the pregnancy at 13 weeks. Warning: Stupid ultrasound technician comment ahead. My mom drove me to the hospital and the technician who finally saw me said, "Are you sure you were pregnant?" Huh?!? I'd had an ultrasound at 6 that same evening & I saw the fetus with its arms and legs moving around. I'd miscarried at home & I didn't even know... (Obviously, the bleeding and cramps had been really bad, I did know I was miscarrying, I just didn't know it was already over.) No, I didn't go into all that detail with Diana, it just went through my head. I was thinking that I hope for her sake that if it's going to end it ends quickly.
Although I wanted my pregnancy to continue, knowing that it probably wouldn't definitely made the miscarriage less tragic for me. Maybe knowing the truth early on is the best?
Diana told me she's too drained to go through another cycle. I told her that she'll do it when the time is right for her and that I'll be waiting for her to call me with the good news. I know she will.